State Water Contractors Challenge Fish and Game Commission Decision on Longfin Smelt
New Regulations Violate California Endangered Species Act, Threaten Water Supply
The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, contends that project operations do not have a significant impact on the longfin smelt; that the water supply impact of the regulation is grossly disproportional to any potential benefit the regulation will provide to the longfin smelt and that it fails to maintain the purpose of the SWP to the maximum extent possible — all as required by the terms of the California Endangered Species Act. The lawsuit also asserts that the regulations are not supported by credible, scientific information demonstrating that project operations are having a significant impact on the longfin smelt.
The regulation could reduce water deliveries by the SWP and federal CVP by more than a million acre feet in the face of the ongoing drought currently impacting
“The economic impact of these new regulations will be huge, especially when combined with drought and existing regulatory restrictions,” said
The Commission’s decision also fails to consider the many other factors that scientists have identified as possible reasons for the decline in fish populations. Invasive plants and aquatic animals are wreaking havoc on chemical and biological balances, toxic runoff from pesticides and wastewater treatment plant discharges are flowing through Delta waters and nonnative predator fish introduced for sport fishing have altered the natural food web.
“By focusing only on the pumps, we’re ignoring the many other factors that impact the fish. That’s a disservice to the people of
These restrictions are in addition to severe cutbacks already imposed to address the decline of another similar fish species, the Delta smelt. Last year, a federal judge cut 660,000 acre-feet from the water system, a 31% reduction that could have served 5.3 million Californians for one year.
In addition to regulatory cutbacks,
Public water agencies, environmental organizations, and state and federal agencies are working together to develop a long-term solution. The Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), a comprehensive conservation plan for the Delta, will provide a basis for addressing the many threats to the Delta needed for fishery and ecosystem recovery, while finding a way to continue to deliver water to Californians throughout the state. For more information on the BDCP, please visit http://www.resources.ca.gov/bdcp/.
The State Water Contractors is a statewide, non-profit association of 27 public agencies from Northern, Central and
SOURCE State Water Contractors